Technical Update from Alex Foessel

Departure from Santiago

Today we depart from Santiago de Chile to Punta Arenas (southern most city in the world). We are flying on a Chilean Air Force (FACH) Hercules C-130 plane. The plane carries our team and equipment in a 5 hour long flight.

The team gathered at the Apart Hotel Club Presidente around 7:45AM. All members departed from there with the exception of Fernando Valdes whomwe met at the airport. We arrived to the Air Force Base at 8:30. The Herc took off just before noon. In the mean time we had the chance to eat some breakfast to survivie the flight (unlike the domestic commercial carriers, this does not have beautiful flight attendants offering food and drinks every five minutes).

All the equipment was loaded on the plane except for the snowmobile that we rented in Santiago. This is a Skidoo Skandic WT 500 that we got from a ski resort. The skidoo should arrive to Punta Arenas later today in a second Herc flying to Punta Arenas.

We have reserved sleep accomodations at the Air Force Base at Punta Arenas. Having Captain Puebla among us seems to facilitize getting support and resources from the Chilean Air Force.

The current plan is to work all Friday assemblying the robot. We have to be ready to take off to the ice any time during or after Saturday morning. Other activities are to get a second snowmobile at Punta Arenas, buy some food and groceries, get the last hair cut and good and hot meals before departing to the ice.

The New Team Members

The original team that departed from USA was:

Matthew Deans (CMU, USA), Stewart Moorehead (CMU, Canada), Bill Cassidy (University of Pittsburgh, USA), Pascal Lee (NASA-AMES, France), Nicolas Vandapel (LAAS, France), Liam Pedersen (CMU, South Africa), Michael Parris (CMU, USA), Mark Sibenac (CMU, USA), Alex Foessel (CMU, Chile).

During the last three days, we had three more people join our team. These are chilean researchers invited to join our expedition with the hope of future academic colaboration. The new members are:

Captain Cristian Puebla (Chilean Air Force Officer, Chile). Aeronautic engineer, Master in astronautic engineering. Fernando Valdes (Chilean Air Force, Chile) He is pursuing a PhD in the University of Santiago de Chile. Danilo Bassi, PhD (University of Santiago de Chile faculty, sponsored by the Chilean Antarctic Institute, Chile). He has a PhD at the University of Southern California.

Cristian and Fernando are the two people that we invited from the Chilean Air Force to integrate to our team to prduce a technical relationship with another institution that has space within sight. Danilo was selected by the Antarctic Chilean Institute as a chileam representative in this scientific expedition as part of our colaborations deals with the chilean government.

Conversation with Entel

I had a meeting with Entel yesterday. We spoke about the results of their expedition to Patriot Hills to test satellite commumications fron high laitudes, and of possible cooperation deals after knowing that there are no Intelsat comms from Patriot Hills.

Last week Entel satellite technicians deployed a satellite communication dish and transceiver at Patriot Hills (they returned two days ago from the ice), to explore the possibility of having communications through Intelsat constellation. The leader of the team had bad news , for they were unsucccesful into receiveing any signal from the satellite of the Intelsat constellation. The dream of free comms faded away.
However, they did deploy an Inmarsat case and had succesful results. Finally, we discussed how could we work together, and they will follow the following actions: they will request traffic free of charge through the inmarsat system. If that request does not succeed, a lower fare will be requested and also Entel would match money to double the number of hours (up to a certain limit, of course) with money that their marketing department would provide. I also learned that Entel is the local representative of ICO, a constellation of satellites at 10000 km orbit that will have a minimun testing equipment by the year 2000. For the initial effort to experiment with theur people and equipment and a possible outcome of the Inmarsat initiative we believe Entel is part of our team, exploring the possible ways to achieve satellite communications fromvery high latitude places as Patriot Hills. They will join us in a press release to the local community in Punta Arenas.

While looking their pictures from the ice, I was able to see that our yellow crates (that we left last year) are still there. That is very good news given that there was no hope to find them after one antarctic night. I also learned that the minimun temperature they registered was -40C and the wind chill factor went to -69C. The general comment is that the conditions are very bad in October. We hope that they will improve during November.

Expedition Report from William Cassidy

3. Oct. 29, 1998, Thursday: Santiago and Punta Arenas

Today we depart from Santiago de Chile to Punta Arenas, the southernmost city in the world. We are flying on a Chilean Air Force (FACH) Hercules C-130 airplane. The flight should take about 5 hours. The team gathered outside our hotel, the apartment hotel Club Presidente, around 7:45AM. Everyone departed from there with the exception of Fernando Valdes whom we met at the airport. We arrived at the Air Force base at 8:30. The Herc took off just before noon. In the mean time we had had the chance to eat some breakfast at the base, in order to survive the flight: unlike the domestic commercial carriers, this flight does not have beautiful flight attendants offering food and drinks every five minutes. All the equipment was loaded on the plane except for the snowmobile that we rented in Santiago. The skidoo should arrive at Punta Arenas later today in a second Herc.

We arrived at Punta Arenas in the afternoon. The flight was long and overcrowded. Later we learned that FACH was flying journalists down to Patriot Hills to cover the deployment of Nomad. Alex spoke with Comandante Vidal, in charge of Public Relations at the base. The Commander planned to call a press conference the next day.

We rented two cars for transportation, and Christian got the air force base bus to drive us all to town to pick the cars up and to have dinner in Sotitos. We had a wonderful dinner, and later some of the group patronized a local bar and then went dancing at some kind of local university function involving women in underwear. This part of the group experience has never been completely clear to those of us who were not there, and the actual participants seem unable to describe it with any degree of clarity.

We had reserved sleeping accommodations at the Air Force base at Punta Arenas. Having Captain Puebla among us seems to facilitate getting support and resources from the Chilean Air Force.

The current plan is to work all Friday assembling the robot, since we have to be ready to take off to the ice any time during or after Saturday morning. Other activities are to get a second snowmobile at Punta Arenas from our friend Herman Pagels, from whom we had rented last year, to buy some groceries, get a last haircut and enjoy some good, hot meals before departing to the ice.